First Amendment rights: 2001 U.S. Patriot Act
Background on The USA PATRIOT Act, it was created in response to the attacks of September 11 and became a law in less than two months after those attacks. The Act modified major U.S intelligence, communications, and privacy laws including:
- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (EPCA), which modifies Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (the “Wiretap Act“),
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), and
- The Communications Act of 1934.
However it is debated that the law violated numerous constitutional requirements. For example the “Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures and First Amendment freedoms of speech and association.”
Yet supporters rebutted that the law simply created a proper balance between security and liberty in a dangerous world of international terrorism.
The Patriot Act represents an abuse of government authority and still today the debate continues. The debate over the law and its extensions will continue, as Americans continue to struggle with how to protect both liberty and security.
An example of this concept is how it continues to be a controversial topic. In the previous campaigns (Tommy Thompson’s (R) vs. Tammy Baldwin (D)) Thompson launched an attacking campaign against Baldwin for voting against a 2006 bill commemorating the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
“Baldwin did, in fact, vote against the bill. But as her campaign noted Tuesday, it was because the bill also paid tribute to more controversial and contentious things like the Patriot Act — a piece of legislation that Baldwin and many Democrats opposed.”
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